Some people have a problem with the book of James, because it seems to lack the grace message. But it really doesn’t. Here are a few gems I picked up from James not too long ago…
James 1:2: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations
This is not saying that we should be happy about having trials! Trials are BAD. But it is saying that even though we fall into these bad things, we can STILL be joyful-
Vs.3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
The traditional teaching suggests that the trying of your faith is more or less grinning and bearing your trial, and trying to be comforted because “it is good for you.”
NO! We can be joyful because the trial presents an opportunity to let our faith produce something. We can be joyful at the prospect of our faith getting us out of the trial, or at the prospect of our prayers being answered and the great testimony that will follow. I remember reading George Muller’s autobiography. He said that he secretly began to enjoy his trials, because he got excited thinking about how God was going to get him out of them!
Vs. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
This is the same as saying “Be patient.” The trial will not last. Let patience have a go, her perfect work. Then you will eventually receive. You will be complete and lack nothing. This means you will have the answer that your faith was challenged with. We often hear a lot about faith, but it is through faith AND PATIENCE that we inherit the promises (Heb.6:12).
Vs.5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
God gives liberally and without reproach! That is the grace message. We all could think of many reasons why He should “upbraid” us, or why He should “teach us a lesson.” But that is not His way. And if He is not upbraiding us, then we shouldn’t be upbraiding ourselves! See Freedom in Christ.
Vs.6-8 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Oh boy, here it is! Everything was going well until this verse. Ask in faith– this is where I used to feel condemned. This was my chance to blow it, because if I sensed any unbelief I could lose the promise. But this is a works way of thinking. It is relying on yourself and not the God who gives liberally and without reproach.
The key is to quit analyzing my faith and just look to Him. If I allow patience to have her perfect work, I won’t waver the minute things seem hopeless. If I focus on Him and not the problem, I will stay afloat.
But perhaps the meaning here isn’t so much concerned with specific faith in a specific situation as it is with a general life of faith. It means living in God’s grace as His children, as opposed to living for the world. To profess faith and yet live for the world is hypocritical or double minded.
Power flows when we live for God. We may not do it perfectly, but Jesus did it perfectly for us. That is the good news, even in the book of James!